News / Ottawa

What do you do when geese eat all your research? Release the hounds!

The federal government plans to use dogs to deal with hungry geese who want to eat research at the experimental farm.

Hungry geese are trying to eat research at the experimental farm.

TORSTAR NEWS SERVICe

Hungry geese are trying to eat research at the experimental farm.

Canadian geese returning to Ottawa are hungry for knowledge – but researchers at the experimental farm aren't interested in handing over their crops.

While the City of Ottawa struggles with copious amounts of fowl poop in waterfront parks, the federal government is dealing with a different goose problem at the Central Experimental Farm.

On Tuesday, the department of Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada put out a tender requesting applications for “canine control” of the goose population on the farm.

“The geese come and eat our crops and our scientists work hard on developing those crops. For them to lose that research can really slow down their efforts,” said Marc Savard, associate director of research and technology in Ottawa.

“We tried to figure out a way to solve that for years and ... the best way was dogs,” he said. “In the country you can use loud noises, but you can’t really do that in the city setting,” he said.

Unlike fireworks, alarms or chemicals, the specially trained dogs are quiet and don’t harm the geese.

“The dogs are trained not to touch the geese, they just chase them away,” said Savard. “When the story came out a few years ago people said, ‘Oh take my dog, he’ll chase them.’ Except that the dog would probably catch the goose and eat it, and there would be problems with that.”

The usual cost of hiring the dogs and their handlers is $50,000 to $60,000 each year. Savard said considering the value of the research being done, the goose-control measures are a good investment.

The City of Ottawa has a different goose problem and is still trying to find a solution to prevent the geese from covering waterfront parks with their droppings.

Last year a pilot project on Petrie Island used a mix of dogs, drones and egg destruction to control the population but the methods were too expensive to expand to other parks.

City staff estimated last fall that implementing a geese management program would cost around $70,000 over the next two years. 

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